The probate timeline: What to expect

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2020 | Probate & Estate Administration |

People often paint probate in a negative light, but it is a beneficial process. It helps to solidify your loved one’s wishes and enables the executor to take the time to properly close the estate. If you have recently lost a parent and feel incredibly lost about what to expect in probate, you may fear the process a little. However, it really is not a bad thing. 

Probate can take some time, depending on the size of the estate and its complexity. In most cases, though, things will move along at a good pace. You probably will not spend a long time in the process. Homelight explains that probate can take as little as three months; for more complex estates, it can take up to several years. 

Distribution of assets 

One factor that can greatly affect how long probate takes is finding all the heirs and distributing the property. If your parent kept heirs to a minimum and only included close family, then this should not slow things down. If you have to hunt down a long-lost relative, though, it can lengthen the process. The estate does not close, and probate does not end until you make all the distributions. 


Creditors will have a chance to make claims against the estate for outstanding debts, which could also eat into the timeline. The court will order you to pay debts from the estate, which could impact inheritances. You may also have to deal with disputing creditor claims. You may have to hunt down paperwork and provide evidence that your parent paid the debt to avoid having to pay it again. 

Court schedule 

This issue is really out of your hands and depends largely on where you live. Some probate courts are so busy and have such packed schedules that you may actually have to wait for your time in court. This can slow things down immensely and add to the total time it takes to get through probate.